Faces of Gratitude
Every time I visit the Polynesian Cultural Center, I am impressed by the people who work there. Most are young college students, and they are the primary reason PCC is Hawaii’s top paid tourist attraction. The attitude, gratitude, and spirit of these young people affects me. You can see it in their eyes; you can hear it in their voices; and you can feel it as they represent their heritage and their values.
“I love interacting with PCC guests and teaching them about my Samoan culture,” says Sone Naunau, a student from New Zealand. “I am studying accounting and business management at BYU-Hawaii. The Lord guided me to Laie, and I have learned so much about the world around me and myself since I came. I will forever cherish the memories, friendships, and life lessons that have been made possible through donations.”
Each semester the center employs hundreds of BYU-Hawaii students like Sone. Their jobs give them hands-on experience and help them apply what they are learning in class.
“Through my job I bring happiness and an unforgettable vacation experience to our guests,” says Wai Man Ng, a psychology major from Hong Kong. “I work as a canoe pusher. With what I have learned here about cooperation among workers from different backgrounds, I hope to work for the government of Hong Kong and dedicate myself to the improvement of society.”
Founded in 1963, the nonprofit Polynesian Cultural Center was created so that students of nearby BYU-Hawaii could work their way through college by sharing their island heritage with visitors.
“I love working with awesome coworkers and supervisors who share my beliefs and standards as we serve guests from all over the globe,” says Celeste Chan, a business major from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. “In my job with concessions I am learning vital lessons in leadership, marketing, and communications. Words can’t express my gratitude for the generosity behind my work-study opportunity. You have helped me, and I dream of someday having the means to help my brother gain an education.”
“One of the primary reasons the Polynesian Cultural Center exists is to assist Brigham Young University-Hawaii in preparing young people for their futures,” says Von D. Orgill, president and CEO of PCC. “That’s really what it’s all about.”
Tsatsral Enkhtuvshin from Mongolia agrees. “Every day I am grateful for those who make my education possible. I decided to go to BYU-Hawaii when serving a Temple Square mission in Salt Lake City, but neither my mother nor I could pay for tuition. Fortunately some sister missionaries told me about the IWORK program. I am gaining an education at BYU-Hawaii and professional experience as an accounting clerk at PCC business office.”
“Thank you for giving me the chance to better my life,” says Richard Sidal, an IT major from Fiji. “Working with the lights in the theater gives me great hands-on learning in my field, and I am gaining important leadership skills working with people from other cultures. Without donors I would not have been able to afford school. Thank you!”
President Orgill says PCC employs, mentors, and trains students, helping them graduate with little or no debt and preparing them to return home ready to move the work of the Lord forward and build communities and families. In the past three years, those who donate to PCC have helped more than 1,500 students.
“I do the sound for the luau show and help with the wireless microphones at the night show,” says Mei En Huang, a social work major from Taiwan. “The best part of my job is when people say, ‘Thank you!’ even though I am just doing my job. I am learning to be responsible, to cooperate with different people, and to appreciate a variety of cultures. To those who make my work here possible, thank you very much! Without you, I would not have had this chance.”